Belarus is increasingly involved in trade with Europe, exporting goods to many countries. Nowadays, Belarus welcomes all kinds of businesses, but if you want to work there, it is essential to be aware of the unique Belarusian business culture. Here are nine crucial rules and facts on business culture and etiquette for those who are going to deal with Belarusians.
- Language: Russian and Belarusian are the two official languages of Belarus, though Russian is the most-spoken language.
- Instead of “Mr” and “Mrs”, Belarusians use the person’s first name and patronymic (the name from their father). For men, the ending is -ovich and for women it’s -yevna. If you speak English, however, it is acceptable to use only a person’s first name when you address her or him directly.
- You need to be careful with gifts, as when you meet a business partner for the first time it might be associated with corruption. Small presents will be appreciated by an existing associate, but make sure it’s appropriate and not overdone.
- Belarusians usually follow a hierarchical business style so always respect the different levels within an organization. The final decision-maker is mainly the highest individual in authority.
- Belarusians do not usually mix their professional and private life, so avoid asking your partners personal questions in business settings.
- Business Outfit: Men usually wear suits and ties wherever they go, particularly black and grey – generally rather dark colours. In contrast, Belarusian women often choose bright colours for their business attire.
- In Belarus, decision-making can be a slower process than in western societies. Coordination with executives is an integral part of business. Even minor changes have to be concurred. Just be patient and, if possible, try to make concessions.
- Belarusians usually connect their social events with food. If you are invited to a dinner, be ready to have a solid meal.
- At first sight, Belarusians might seem to be quite cold. Upon further acquaintance, however, you will see that they are very open, hospitable and communicative.